Police Say Gold Scam Targets Chinese Residents

Two men who Montgomery County police seek in gold scam. | MCPD

Montgomery County police are looking for two men whom they believe perpetrated two scams in the county where they present a bit of real gold and at the end of a transaction, the scammers have the victim’s money and the victims are left with worthless, fake gold.

Police say they have arrest warrants for Xiaoping Yang (also known as Ziaoping Yang), 49, and Yinhui Huang, 51, of undetermined addresses. Both were charged in Fairfax County for committing this same scam.

They are being charged with theft and conspiracy to commit theft, police said.

The scam, called an affinity fraud by police, has occurred elsewhere in the country, and the Montgomery County police Financial Crimes Section say the gold scam is occurring in this area.

According to police, here’s how it works: One or more scammers, who are often Chinese, work to build trust with victims who are of Chinese descent. It starts with a telephone call, which appears to originate from China.

Sample of fake gold given to victim. | MCPD

The scammer, speaking in a Chinese dialect, says he needs the victim’s help, as in finding a job for someone or needing some other type of support. The scammer arranges to meet the victim, sometimes accompanied by a co-conspirator, and presents the victim with what the scammers state is real gold (comprising gold nuggets and Buddha figures) that he says he found while working construction.

The suspect tells the victim that he is undocumented, has no connections in this country and wants to sell the gold and use the money to return to China or help his family in China. The scammer asks that the victim provide the scammer with cash and in return, he will give the victim all of the gold. The scammer states that he will take less than what the gold is worth. If the victim requests it, the scammer will provide the victim with a small gold “sample” to be tested. The small piece of gold is often real. At the end of the final transaction between the scammer and victim, the victim is left with worthless, fake gold and the scammer now has the victim’s cash.

The Montgomery County police has received two reports of gold scams occurring in the county. The first incident occurred on or about April 24. The resident gave the suspects $20,000 in cash for gold, which was tested and determined to be fake.

In the second incident, which occurred on June 11, the potential victim became suspicious of the suspects and before conducting any type of exchange she searched articles online and learned that this was a scam. She then reported the incident to Montgomery County police.

Detectives have obtained photographs of the two men in this case. The photographs are from a Gaithersburg restaurant where the two men and victim talked about the gold while eating lunch, police said.

The Financial Crimes Section is asking that anyone who recognizes the two men or anyone with information about the whereabouts of suspects Ziapong and Huang to call detectives at 240.773-6330.

For those who wish to remain anonymous, Crime Solvers of Montgomery County is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for any information that leads to the arrest of the two unknown suspect(s). Tipsters can call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).  Anyone who believes he/she has been a victim of this scam is asked to call detectives at 240-773-6330.

 

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Douglas Tallman

About Douglas Tallman

Reporter with 35 years experience throughout Maryland. Reach me at dtallman@mymcmedia.org or via Twitter at @MCM-Doug

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